Monday, September 14, 2009

The Weird and Wretched | Endemol Digital Formats

Endemol Digital had a stab at in 2003 - 2004. They were both enjoyable to interpret into brands and visual experiences, but they had their problems too.

I hate the phrase that starts " You can't polish a…" - not least because it's often how an Endemol producer is describing the project I am having to work on. Home Video Junk went one better, it started with a whole load of sub- "You've Been framed" clips dredged from Endemols global plumbing, and attempted to create a format that would make them palatable.
More than one gallant producer tried to find a creative slant, and a budget that would work, finally lumping for a couple of space creatures who talk through the footage - hence the UFO connotation of the logo.

Ask certain New media practitioners in their late-thirties if they worked on Mighty Truck of Stuff- the web game, and you may ignite long suppressed night terrors in them. Here we had a game that many thought might actually bring down the company, such was the impossibility of realising it's apparently modest requirements.
First ingredient, as always, was a TV bod on the client side with no real interest in online. Then mix in a soured commercial history to the relationship meaning the online producer of the game will live his days in a world of make believe priorities and expectations. This is the time where no-one in charge will hear them say "too expensive" or "not enough time" - but they will still whisper it loudly, to themselves.
Now, as production rolls forward, like some huge medieval device no-one understands, it is ensured that those with the technical knowledge required are whisked off to firefight something else - now those left will scrabble to pull people off the street to create this immersive interactive video game. If there's anyone left from the start of the project, change them now.
Overnight, the schedule becomes a joke, a laugh, a crying shame. There's no longer time for any two people making the thing to talk to - or even meet each other - it's going to be great. Time for the client to check progress!
Remember that we are talking about mid-2004, in the London New Media business, so there's an 80% chance that the client will now be someone who wasn't there at the start - good thing!
It's time to hit the valley of madness. A perturbed realm of countless, deranged client amends and requests, requests for things no-one ever, ever, mentioned, for any game. It is into this insanity that accessibility requirements now rise, like an unvanquishable army of unreasonable skeletons. People start each day with the knowledge that the game is now undead.

And that's all…you never really hear that the game is finished - it's eclipsed by a few redundancy announcements and people moving on to "…pastures new!".
After a month or two, someone tentatively uses the name of the game as a euphemism for dying slowly of terminal cancer - and it starts to feel okay again.
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Blogger James Tarling said...

Hi Matt,

In case you didn't know, Baltimore Drop and Battleships live on..

The Mighty Truck of Stuff didn't sound much fun mind...

Fondest, J

March 26, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mighty Truck the online game still, apparently outstripped the TV show in terms of audience!

April 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM  

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